The head of Fiat's premium brand Lancia has its dealer count in Europe will rise by about 50% by next year, excluding Italy, after it takes over outlets selling Chrysler and Jeep.

CEO Olivier Francois, is overseeing the merger of dealerships of the three brands in Europe as a result of the partnership between Fiat and Chrysler Group. This merger of dealerships is part of Fiat's goal to increase the sale of Chrysler and Jeep vehicles outside the US, Reuters reported.

Francois is also responsible for the Chrysler brand in the US, where he is working to improve its battered image. In Europe, Chrysler will be sold under the Lancia brand because the US brand is less known than the Italian one. Only in the UK and Ireland will Chrysler remain.

Francois said the number of dealers in 13 European Union member countries will rise from 355 this year to 540 in 2011.

The combined number of Lancia, Chrysler and Jeep dealers in the region totalled some 700 before their merger, he said. "(We'll take) the best of both worlds," he said. In Italy, the number of Lancia dealers will remain at about 180.

The aim is to have more than 1,000 dealerships across Europe by 2014.

Francois also said he planned to launch new models next year, including a five-door version of the Ypsilon city car as well as Chrysler's 300C and Grand Voyager, which will mostly be sold under the Lancia brand.

Francois said Chrysler will help Lancia fill out its offering with vehicles for the upper end of the range.

In Lancia's home market of Italy, he aimed to increase its share to 7% in 2012 from a little less than 5% in 2009.

Chrysler group presence in Europe including Italy is tiny. In the first eight months of the year, the Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brands sold a combined 24,740 units in the European Union and EFTA markets, 0.3% of the total, according to industry figures. That share is smaller than the 1.6% controlled by Volvo Car.

The UK unit has dropped models such as the Dodge Caliber from its line and, some time ago, dealers sold off surplus Dodge Avengers through a third party at two-for-GBP20,000. Only the Journey is left in the UK Dodge line; Chrysler has the 300C and Grand Voyager (Town & Country) and Jeep the Wrangler, Patriot and Grand Cherokee.

For the same period, Lancia sold 72,921 units in the region. Although the number is nearly three times as much as the three US brands, its market share was still only 0.8%.